Hercules 3D Prophet All-In-Wonder 8500 DV

The All-In-Wonder 8500 DV is the most complete graphics card on the market at present. Besides good 3D game performance, this Hercules-distributed card offers IEEE 1394 connectivity, a TV tuner plus analogue video in and out ports.

ATI's R200 chip is responsible for good 2D and 3D performance, and is also used in the Radeon 8500 graphics card. However, the All-in-Wonder's chip is clocked at only 230MHz (Radeon 8500: 275MHz), while the memory is clocked at only 190MHz (Radeon 8500: 275MHz). The lower 3D performance that results is still sufficient for a good gaming experience, though.

Besides good 2D and 3D functionality, the All-in-Wonder 8500 DV offers features that are so far unequalled for a graphics card. Besides a 125-channel TV tuner, the card has a DVI-I port for driving digital-interfaced TFT panels. This connector can also handle standard CRT monitors via a VGA-DVI adapter. There's also a single on-board IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port.

An external connection box also offers additional IEEE 1394 (FireWire) ports to complement the on-board one, along with inputs for analogue audio and video signals (composite and S-Video), plus an input for digital audio signals (S/PDIF). With the included radio remote, you can control both the All-in-Wonder 8500 DV and -- via a built-in mouse function -- the entire PC.

As far as 3D performance is concerned, the All-in-Wonder 8500 DV is 16 percent slower than the Radeon 8500, because of the former's slower chip and memory clock speeds. Even so, the All-in-Wonder 8500 DV still delivers a good gaming experience.

Installation is handled by a single setup program and is quick and problem-free. Multimedia Centre 7.5 -- the control software ATI provides for the All-in-Wonder -- succeeds very well, and all of the card's functions (DVD, video CD, audio CD, TV and Teletext output) can be controlled by this software. The included remote control is the icing on the cake, allowing you to control both the card and -- via an integrated mouse function -- the entire computer.

The All-in-Wonder 8500 DV is no ordinary graphics card, offering a versatile array of inputs aimed squarely at video enthusiasts. Besides the outstanding quality of the video output and the possibility of being able to record TV broadcasts in the space-saving ATI-VCR format, the integrated IEEE 1394 ports will be even more important to users of digital video cameras.

The 3D Prophet All-in-Wonder 8500 DV is a unique product whose £297.02 (ex. VAT) price is fully justified thanks to its rich functionality. With its many multimedia functions and the first-class control concept, it's unmatched in its class and fully deserves its Editors' Choice award.

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